Judge dismisses 5 'Moral Monday' cases during trial

Joel Brown Image
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Judge dismisses 5 'Moral Monday' cases during trial
A judge threw out five "Moral Monday" cases Tuesday saying there was no evidence of any disturbance.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A recent Supreme Court decision once again factored into the dismissal of charges against "Moral Monday" protesters.

Tuesday, a Wake County judge tossed out five protesters on trial for disrupting the proceedings at the Legislative Building in 2013.

It happened during the height of the Moral Monday movement against controversial Republican-backed policies.

On July 13, 2013, 101 protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing. Five of the protesters were tried Tuesday.

The chief of the General Assembly Police testified that he made the decision to classify the protest as a disturbance. He told the court that he warned protesters to leave or be arrested.

However, the Moral Monday defense team, supplied by the NAACP, played a new strategy.

"Until you tell each individual, then you can't determine that particular individual willfully violated the law", explained N.C. NAACP legal advisor Irv Joyner.

Citing brand new Supreme Court precedent, the defense argued the General Assembly Police's rules for classifying a disturbance are vague and overbroad, and that enforcement needs to be narrowly tailored to specific individuals to protect the group's first amendment rights.

"The Supreme Court held it is too heavy-handed an approach to just kick everybody out when there are people who are going to be lawful in their protest", defense attorney Scott Holmes told the judge.

In the end, the judge agreed with the defense. She dismissed the case, ruling the charges just don't hold up.

With over 900 arrests last year, there are a lot more of these trials to come.

This makes the second case to be dismissed based on that Supreme Court ruling. The Moral Monday defense team may have found its best argument yet.

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